UNESCO shines a light on the potential of African cinema at the Cannes Film Festival
With these words, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, opened the round table "UNESCO takes action to promote the development of the film industry in Africa", organized on May 24, 2022 as part of the 75th Cannes Film Festival.
In the presence of Pierre Lescure, President of the Cannes Film Festival, Jérôme Paillard, Director of the International Film Market, representatives of the City of Cannes and major figures of the film industry in Africa, this UNESCO initiative was received with great interest and welcomed by all participants.
Several panelists shared their experiences to further enrich the recommendations of the UNESCO Report. Among them were Alex Moussa Sawadogo, General Delegate of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), Cecilia Cenciarelli of The Film Foundation, the Malagasy director and producer Laza, Khaled Azek, Director of the National Center for Cinema and Image of Tunisia, as well as the Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Cultural and Creative Industries.
The event highlighted the issues and challenges facing the African film industry as well as future investment priorities. These include the importance of supporting the industry from creation to distribution in order to ensure diversity of content, taking advantage of new distribution opportunities via online platforms, developing or revising national and regional instruments for regulation and governance of the sector, training young talent and supporting the mobility of women filmmakers through artistic residencies and writing workshops, not to mention the issue of safeguarding film archives of African heritage.
The exchanges also highlighted several innovative partnerships developed by UNESCO, such as the collaboration with Naomi Kawase for the Nara "Grand Voyage" residency, a short film competition co-organised with NETFLIX and targeting the sub-Saharan African region, the SENTOO project which is a unique platform for structuring and networking national film and image centers, as well as The African Film Heritage Project, which was initiated with the Martin Scorsese Foundation, the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers and the Cineteca di Bologna.
The UNESCO Report on the Film Industry in Africa is available here: The African Film Industry: trends, challenges and opportunities for growth